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Anaheim Ducks Player Faces Charges For Killing Grizzly Bear

Clayton Stoner (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
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A member of the Anaheim Ducks hockey team is facing charges for the killing a beloved grizzly bear in British Columbia.

Clayton Stoner, a defenseman for the Anaheim Ducks, is facing multiple charges under the Wildlife Act, including two counts of making a false statement to obtain a license, one count of hunting without a license, one count of hunting wildlife out of season and one count of unlawful possession of dead wildlife. These charges stem from the May 2013 shooting of Cheeky, a five-year-old grizzly bear loved by local First Nations people, according to the Vancouver Sun.

Under the Wildlife Act, only a resident of B.C. can obtain a permit to hunt a grizzly bear. To be considered a resident, you'd have to have lived in B.C. for "the greater portion of each of six calendar months out of the 12 calendar months," both when applying for the permit and during the hunt. If a person doesn't meet these qualifications, they would have to pay extra to hunt with a licensed B.C. guide-outfitter. To hunt a grizzly, this fee is generally around $25,000.

Though Stoner was born in B.C., he was playing for the Minnesota Wild at the time he went hunting, meaning he would have failed to meet residency qualifications. Though there are many people opposed to the trophy hunting of grizzlies, according to Detective-Sergeant Cynthia Mann of the Conservation Officer service, all of the charges against Stoner "are directly related to the residency requirement."

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Cheeky was shot between Bella Coola and Bella Bella in the Kwatna River estuary. The aboriginal people there said that the hunters skinned the bear and left its corpse in a field, minus its head and paws.

Robert Johnson, who works with the Coastal Guardian Watchmen Network collecting bear DNA for research, said the bear was named Cheeky because he would look at the humans and stick his tongue out at them.

"We started talking to him, telling him what we were doing there. We got to know him quite well, to the point we could go in on our boat…and get off and walk around in the area without having to worry about him," Johnson told the Vancouver Sun.

The Coastal First Nations has banned trophy hunting bears in native territories, and this particular area was one of those territories. However, this ban isn't acknowledged by the provincial government. And even though a majority of people in B.C. are against trophy hunting, B.C. Premier Christy Clark has yet to outlaw it, saying, "In terms of the bear hunt, we have a very very healthy population of bears and [the hunt] is all scientifically managed. There is absolutely no threat to the population of bears and the hunt supports a lot of family run businesses."

Stoner issued a statement saying that he grew up in B.C. hunting and fishing with his family, and that he "applied for an received a grizzly bear hunting license through a British Columbia limited-entry lottery last winter" and shot the bear while hunting with his family. "I love to hunt and fish and will continue to do so with my family and friends in British Columbia," he said.

Stateside, some want Stoner suspended from the Anaheim Ducks and are planning to protest outside the Honda Center today, CBS LA reports.

The case is an interesting counterpoint that of Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who hunted Cecil the Lion, an animal who was also loved by locals. Today, it was announced that Palmer will not face charges, though the social damage wrought by Cecil's death continues to rage.

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